By Stephen Lwetutte
It is over one month now since Fred Lumbuye was detained by Turkish authorities, yet his whereabouts and grounds for detention have just been disclosed by the government of Turkey. Both Turkish and international law obligations require that anyone detained in Turkey be promptly informed of the grounds, place and rights relating to their detention.
Fred Lumbuye, a Turkey-based anti-regime Ugandan blogger was on 3 August 2021 reportedly violently arrested at his lstanbul apartment and led away to an unknown destination. Despite numerous calls for the Turkish authorities to disclose Mr Lumbuye’s whereabouts and allow access to him, they remained tight-lipped at variance with the requirements of Turkish and Turkey’s international law obligations. Uganda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs rather bizarrely claimed shortly after that Mr Lumbuye had been extradited on Uganda’s request and that imminently he was to arrive in Uganda, telling the media that he would be interrogated and arraigned before court without specifying the nature of charges. He even thanked the government of Turkey for its cooperation and assistance in apprehending Mr Lumbuye, only later on, to deny he ever made any such statements and claiming he was quoted out of context. It is unclear why the Minister seemed to contradict himself so publicly. Newsday.co.ug always stated that Mr Lumbuye’s extradition would not be possible given Mr Lumbuye’s status and circumstances and maintained that Mr Lumbuye was still in Turkey, despite the claims by Ugandan authorities. This is indeed the case.
An article published by Newsday.co.ug on 14 August 2021 entitled “Turkey must now produce Ugandan Citizen Lumbuye”, stated: “[a]ccording to Turkish law, the arrest detention can last up to 24 hours unless a more serious offence is suspected to have been committed, in which case the detention can last up to four days,,,[a]lso, the detainee has a right to a lawyer and a translator,as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Rights, Turkey is obligated to ensure that individuals with in its territory enjoy, without discrimination, the right to trial within a reasonable time, and the right to a remedy in relation to any violation of these rights.”
On 3 September 2021, exactly one month since Mr Fred Lumbuye was arrested, the Turkish government at last reportedly acknowledged and confirmed through its Ambassador to Uganda Kerem Alp that Mr Fred Lumbuye was indeed being held in “immigration protection” in Turkey, with no known criminal charges. This information was given to the opposition Shadow Minister with responsibility for the foreign affairs docket Hon. Nkunyingi Muwada in a meeting with the Ambassador at the Turkish embassy in Kampala.
Mr Fred Lumbuye has since claimed that he has been subjected to beatings, other physical and mental suffering whilst in this illegal detention. If confirmed, this is a very serious violation and Turkey must take prompt measures to conduct a thorough, effective and impartial investigations with s view to bringing the culprits to justice. The outcome of any such investigations must be made public and Mr Lumbuye will be entitled to a remedy in relation to any violation of these rights he has suffered.
It is worrying that Turkey appears blatantly to have breached the fundamental rights of a person whose safety and life are at risk in his home country. The reported confirmation by the Turkish Ambassador to Uganda Mr Kerem Alp, echoeing Foreign Minister Okello Oryem’s statements, that the two countries were “in negotiations” about Fred Lumbuye amidst all the alleged violations of his rights is absolutely disturbing. This might amount to acquiescing, conniving and conspiring deliberately to violate domestic and international law instead of upholding and promoting it and, if borne out, must be strongly condemned and an explanation elicited from both State Parties to a raft of international human rights treaties and agreements.
Moreover, as both State Parties will know, Principle 11 of the “Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment”, adopted by United Nations General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, states:
“1. A person shall not be kept in detention without being given an effective opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial or other authority. A detained person shall have the right to defend himself or to be assisted by counsel as prescribed by law.
- A detained person and his counsel, if any, shall receive prompt and full communication of any order of detention, together with the reasons therefor.
- A judicial or other authority shall be empowered to review as appropriate the continuance of detention.”
Turkey must, therefore, fulfill and uphold its responsibility as a civilised member of the international community, but also with its status as an increasingly influential player on the global scene as an emerging market. It is difficult to see how such a status is compatible with a stained human rights record. Turkey must back up its credentials by demonstrating adherence to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms. Turkey must act in the light the allegations in the Lumbuye case.
The writer is a Multilingual Human Rights Practitioner, formerly at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London for over 20 years and now Legal and Human Rights Consultant.
Do you want to share a story, comment or opinion regarding this story or others, Email us at email@example.com Tel/WhatsApp........0726054858